Posted - May 15 2008 : 21:03:33
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Question from Cathy: “Can someone act like myself and send e-mails in my name to other people...Our identites are stolen all the time, how about our e-mails?”
Great question, Cathy. The short answer is, “Yes, people can send email that looks like it came from you”. This is even simpler to do when you use web-based email like Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail, or Google's Gmail. Even if you don't use one of these, most ISP's (Internet Service Providers) now provide a web-based email alternative, so it's really possible for just about anyone to masquerade as someone else. What would someone need to do this? All such a person would need would be your login credentials, in other words, your user name and password. With this, he could log into your web-based account and do anything you can do. In fact, whoever has your credentials is you, as far as the computer is concerned. You can limit what this person can do by using a local email program like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, or similar program. An email program like this running on your computer will download your new messages and then delete them from the mail server. This way, any confidential communications that may come in through email will not be visible to that person. You can further limit someone's actions by changing your password every so often. You should change your password immediately if you suspect your account has been compromised. This might require contacting your ISP and if you're using a local program to manage your email, you'll definitely have to change your password there also.
In a business setting, it's important to log off or lock your computer if you're going to be away from it for a while, especially if, say, you suspect that someone might dash off a nasty missive to your boss.
Finally, a virus might also do this as well. Since 1999, viruses have popped up that would send themselves to your friends by reading your address book. When this became widely publicized, the technique was modified to pull an address at random from your address book and send the message so that it appeared to come from that person. That way, the virus would hide which computer was really compromised.
Cool Site: weather.com. I know, everyone already knows about The Weather Channel's website, weather.com. But the thing I want to focus on here is their interactive weather map. It combines the Microsoft equivalent of Google Earth, called Microsoft Virtual Earth, and weather sources from around the country. You can center the map on your location, right down to the street level, and see things like radar, cloud cover, temperature, wind speeds, dew points, or past precipitation. You can choose to see either a roadmap, or satellite/aerial imagery, and all overlaid with the info you're interested in. You can even set the radar images in motion and see how the weather has changed over the last hour, in five minute increments. The map stays between five and ten minutes behind, so it's not real-time, but it's not bad and is updated approximately every five minutes. If the map is in motion, it tends to stay closer to ten minutes behind. If not, then the most recent update will be shown.
Forum Exclusive: Current Interactive Weather for Jacksonville If you're in another ZIP code, go here and then type in your ZIP code at the top.
Cool Gadget: This week's gadget is a software gadget, called Auslogics Defragmenter. Fragmentation can kill the speed of your computer and make your hard drive work harder than it should. Defragment your computer's hard drive at least once a month, and right before you install new software. We'll have a link in the forum.
It's All “Geek” To Me: Protocol: An agreed-upon format and set of rules for exchange of information. For instance, in the book of Esther, you couldn't necessarily just go see the king, even if you were the queen unless he either summoned you, or extended the scepter when he saw you. This was the law in Esther's day. You may be familiar with “Robert's Rules of Order”(official site) (Google search) that govern things like business meetings. Computers also have rules that govern how information is to be exchanged. Without something like “Robert's Rules” you would have chaos and nothing could get done. Protocols in Geek-speak allow computers that wish to communicate to do so in an orderly fashion, so that the users of those computers can get something done.
LinksThe Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com
Auslogics Defragmenter: http://www.auslogics.com/disk-defrag
Protocol Definition from NetLingo: http://www.netlingo.com/lookup.cfm?term=protocol
Protocol Definition from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protocol_(computing)
Robert's Rules of Order, Official Site: http://www.robertsrules.com/